Ms. Schlehuber has filed a lawsuit against Al Packer’s White Marsh Ford in Baltimore County Circuit Court, claiming the dealership held her and her 3-year-old grandson against their will.
Ms. Schlehuber’s lawsuit alleges that in December 2019, she purchased a used vehicle which needed additional work, and the additional work was never done. The dealership offered to return the $1500 she already paid them. When she told the dealership that she would be filing a complaint with Maryland’s Motor Vehicle Administration, the Daily Record reports, “A company manager responded by handing her the nondisclosure agreement under which the dealership would pay her $1,500 in return for her pledge not to ‘reveal to the general media, or to any other person’ the MVA-related complaint or details of the agreement, according to the lawsuit.” The nondisclosure agreement (NDA) also included language saying Ms. Schlehuber could not “demonstrate or spread negative comments” about the dealership. There was no further consideration from the dealership other than simply returning her money. Rightfully so, she refused to sign the document.
On February 25, 2020, Ms. Schlehuber returned to the dealership because she was told she needed to pick up a new temporary registration tag. Her 3-year-old grandson accompanied her. Per the Daily Record, “Once in the office, a manager told her that she would not get the tag until she signed the release.” Ms. Schlehuber refused and tried to leave, but found that her vehicle had been blocked by a dealership-owned pickup truck. Ms. Schlehuber then called 9-1-1, and only when the police arrived, the dealership moved the truck and allowed her to leave. She filed a lawsuit against Al Packer’s White Marsh Ford, LLC on April 6, 2020.
The dealership appears to have made multiple mistakes
There are two elements of this case that caught our eyes: the added expenses, and the NDA request.
First, under Maryland law, a dealership “May not state the purchase price of a vehicle in an advertisement unless the price is the full delivered purchase price of the vehicle, excluding only taxes, title fees, and any freight or dealer processing charge disclosed in accordance with § 15-311.1 of this subtitle.” In layman’s terms, this means the dealership could not legally charge Ms. Schlehuber the additional $1500 for work that needed to be done to her vehicle after she agreed to the price listed for the vehicle. This is considered deceptive advertising. Ms. Schlehuber did not know that at the time when she agreed to pay the $1500 – but the owner, manager, and employees of the dealership should have known.
Second, the dealership’s request for an NDA is not illegal. Nondisclosure agreements are legally binding contracts between two parties wherein at least one party agrees to keep certain information confidential. However, in this case the dealership was leveraging a coverup of illegal conduct by forcing her to sign the NDA.
At Plaxen & Adler, P.A., we represent clients throughout Maryland who have been harmed by actions of others, whether those actions were intentional or due to negligence. We remain open for business, though we are limiting in-person contact to protect our clients and our team. To set up a free consultation by phone, call us today at 410-730.7737 or complete our contact form.